A Christian Guide to Overcoming

Are you facing injustice?  Adversity?  Anger?  Sadness? Disillusionment?  Prejudice?  Persecution?  Frustration? Disenfranchisement?  Are you tired of being misunderstood?  Put down?  Unappreciated?  Pigeon-holed? Unwelcome?  Judged? Are you waking up every day and looking in the mirror at an illness that threatens to rob you of all joy the same way it robs you of energy and stamina?  Is it getting hard to persevere because of the pain, the sadness of the diagnosis, a fear of the future, or the uncertainty of a recovery? This post is for you.  It will unfold over the next few days under the overall theme of A Christian Guide to Overcoming

Overcoming through JesusChrist: I have Overcome the WorldWe’ll start off with overcoming in general and work our way into overcoming difficult contemporary issues.  I’ve decided to adopt this approach because:

  1. The overcoming required in individual circumstances looks different even though the source of overcoming, God Himself, remains the same.
  2. It will help to explain why I’ve been writing some posts on American culture and how good theology should be made visibly practical.  Christians should be able to show how a timeless truth is still relevant today.  Years ago, I wrote in a workbook on spiritual gifts that I felt my calling was, in part, to help bring American culture to a renewed moral course by preaching the Gospel clearly and fearlessly.  It’s still my heart’s desire, as my tag line states, “Making the Theological Understandable.”
  3. One of the blessings of having friendships with people around the globe through the Internet is that I come to see that our cultures may differ, the struggles we face may be of different intensities, but the wounds of the human condition are ubiquitous. The source of overcoming, however, is a single point.

I have asserted elsewhere that the Gospel is the only thing that will change people and/or their circumstances.  External efforts, I’ve suggested, may have some ability to mask whatever is going on, but true change and genuine overcoming is an internal thing.  It happens in our hearts.  And it happens because of Jesus.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I never stopped to pay attention before.  It’s been there in front of my eyes all along.

“I have overcome the world.”

It sounds like it’s already been done. 

But, wait! Jesus said this in His farewell discourse (John 13:31-17:26).  Before the scourging.  Before the crown of thorns.  Before the Cross.  Before Jesus’ death.  Before His resurrection.  Before the discovery of the empty tomb.  Before Jesus’ ascension.  Before all of this, “I have overcome the world.”

How is this possible?

Jesus says [comments inserted], I have told you [in the past but you’ll carry these teachings with you] so that [here’s the purpose of all My teachings] in Me you may have peace [the result of My teaching you is so that you’ll be able to find peace that is only knowable in Me.  Why will this peace of God and peace with God come in handy?  Well, suffering and persecution are headed your way as Christians].  In this world, you will have trouble [in English it sounds future, but we can take it as a given, automatic!  Trouble equals normal, it’s not just some avoidable future thing though the translation says “will have”…it’s really more expected than that] But [this is a command] take heart!  [Our commanded to-do list is rather short in all of this.  It’s variously translated, Take heart!  Take courage!  Be brave!  Be encouraged!  Be of good cheer! Take hope!] I have overcome the world.

But how?  When did this happen?  Why does it read as past tense, already accomplished, even when the Cross was yet ahead for Jesus?

The ministry of Jesus to an ailing world of humanity didn’t begin with His choosing disciples or changing water into wine.  John tells us it started long before.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”

Trouble started when we rejected God’s command in Eden.  But the good news of the Gospel is that we will have peace in every trouble by looking to Jesus, and our being found in Him.  He is the Word made flesh, the source of all overcoming, and the author and perfecter of our faith.  Yes, there will still be troubles facing Christians and everyone else in the brotherhood of man, but the Gospel can answer each of these troubles.  Over the next few posts, we’ll explore how.

The Word of God, Jesus Messiah, and our trusting in God have been our victory all along.  It is the Word that creates and gives life.  It is the Word that brings light and delivers us out of the darkest circumstances.  It is the Word we must obey.  It is the living Word–Jesus Christ, the Son of God–who gives us all we need to overcome.


Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on August 13, 2013

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google del.icio.us Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

Leave a Reply